Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday November 18 2007
Looks like Steve McClaren might just have done enough to save himself his England job and indirectly save Aston Villa from losing their manager.
McClaren, who lets face it should never have been hired in the first place for the 'top' job, needs just one point against Croatia on Wednesday night to see England qualify for the Euro Championship. IF the team lose they are out and one would expect the axe to fall immediately as it isn't often you are given a lifeline like this. Hopefully they won't be taking Croatia lightly though, as Israel proved last night, anything can happen in international football. Maybe he'll use his brain and use Scott Carson and restore Gareth Barry to the starting line up.
The press are certainly clamouring for Martin O'Neill with the Daily Star reporting that he is the bookies favourite after he 'refused to rule himself in or out of contention' The paper continues; But last month Villa owner Randy Lerner sparked fresh speculation linking O'Neill with England by stating he would never stand in his way if, and when, the post next became available. That appears to have cleared the path for talks between the parties to begin if - as is widely expected - McClaren is sacked after Wednesday's clash with Croatia. But last night O'Neill was giving nothing away about whether he would be interested in swapping the Premier League for a crack at the world stage. The ex-Celtic and Leicester boss said: 'There's no point in speculating on the speculation. Let's take it one step at a time. That's the way to run with it.' Adding, 'My own view, and I'm not just saying it for the sake of it, is that England's recent performances have been excellent.'
Surely he would just say no I'm not interested the same way Alan Curbishley of West Ham has if he hadn't got an interest? Curbs said: 'I'm ruling myself out entirely. This is where I want to be and this is where I want to be successful, so I've got no intention of leaving the club.'
Meanwhile an 'exclusive' in the Sunday Mirror says that if we don't qualify Martin O'Neill tops the FA list. I bet the press are sick as pigs Russia didn't win last night, their knives were already out and sharpened, imagine all those headlines ready for today that they've had to scrap?! They claim Qualification for the Euro 2008 Finals can keep the beleaguered McClaren in his job. If England fail they will turn to Aston Villa manager O'Neill. The FA intend to avert a prolonged debate over McClaren's disastrous reign by seeking immediate permission from Villa to open talks with O'Neill. They also say that Portsmouth's Harry Redknapp and Blackburn's Mark Hughes are also on the list.
Date:Sunday November 18 2007
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